Professional Science Master's
Frequently Asked Questions

On the website the current PSM programs are organized by field of study. Are these the only fields in which a program may receive PSM status or may we also submit applications for other types of programs?
You may submit applications for natural science, mathematics, or engineering programs. Stand-alone professional master's programs in the behavioral and/or social sciences, and standard engineering management programs are not considered for PSM status. However, both social sciences and/or behavioral (psychology) may be part of an interdisciplinary group (see example below), although such courses are not counted toward the “science” part of the curriculum.

What constitutes an active advisory board?
An active advisory board is usually made up of between 6 and 12 business and industry leaders. They assist in the conceptualization of the program and meet on a regular basis to provide ongoing advice to the PSM program. Institutions with multiple PSM programs or tracks sometime have joint advisory boards; in this case members should be chosen to represent the full breadth of targeted employment sectors.

What is meant by the term professional skills content?
Professional skills refers to courses, workshops, and experiences that prepare students to function in leadership positions within industry. They may include such topics as business basics, legal and regulatory issues, finance and marketing, organizational behavior, ethics, communication and teamwork.

Are programs in the social sciences eligible for PSM Recognition?
Social science programs are not eligible for PSM Recognition. However, social science courses that are offered as professional skills content are acceptable.

What is meant by “Estimated Percentage of Science Content” in the boxes where each course is listed?
Please estimate the percentage of the content of each course that is natural science, mathematics, engineering, or technology content that is directly related to the specific field of the degree. Social science or other science/math content that is not directly related to the degree should not be included in the percentage estimate.

What should be the balance in content between science and professional skills?
Natural science, mathematics, computational sciences or engineering should make up more than 50% of the total course content. The professional skills content should be at least 20% of total course content.

Are there cases when science content might be based on the minimum number of master’s credits?
Yes. The program goals may include more than one competency (e.g. both science and policy). Additional professional skills components may have been added at the request of the employer advisory board. Further, the PSM could be designed to target a fairly wide range of employers, each requiring a somewhat different suite of professional skills (e.g. some want business knowledge and some want knowledge of regulatory affairs). In each of these examples, the additional professional requirements would add credits to the PSM beyond those minimally required for a master’s degree at that institution.

What items must be provided under the goals and learning outcomes requirement? 
The goals of the PSM program include overall objectives to be accomplished by the program. The learning outcomes include what the student should know and what the student should be able to do as the result of the education and experience provided by the PSM program.

Must the PSM degree require an internship?
An internship is not required, but if a program does not have an internship it must have a project to integrate the science and professional skills components through a supervised employer based project.

Is a capstone course such as an internship considered to be a science course or a professional skills course?
The purpose of the capstone is to bring together through practical application elements of both the science content and the professional skills content. Therefore the capstone should contain a mix of both science and professional skills components.

What is meant by program quality assurance using the faculty-based mechanisms?
The PSM program must be subject to the program review and approval process normally employed by the university.

What are the responsibilities associated with collection of annual data?
The PSM program has the obligation to submit reports as requested to the PSM Data Collection and Analysis Project. This includes an accounting of applications, enrollment, and degrees granted. In addition assistance is required to reach graduates of the programs in order to determine their employment status.

Are institutions outside the U.S. and Canada eligible? 
Yes, but they must maintain an English language version of their PSM website.

What are some circumstances under which a PSM program director might seek to remove a program from the list of approved programs and what is the process?
When enrollment is discontinued indefinitely or there have been administrative changes that render the program inactive permanently or for an extended period of time the program director would consider delisting the program. To delist a program, a copy of the Delisting Authorization Form should be completed for each program that will be removed from the list of approved PSM programs. The Delisting Authorization Form should be signed by the PSM Program Director, Department Chair, and the Dean of the Graduate School prior to submission to the PSM Office.

If a program has been delisted and would like to change its status, what is the process for becoming listed as an approved program again?
The program director or appropriate designate should initiate communication with a member of the PSM Office for consultation. If there have not been substantial changes to the program’s curriculum, it is possible that the program’s status may be updated without additional actions on the part of the program. In the event that there are substantial changes to the program’s curriculum, the program may be required to submit an application that includes the modifications to the program for consideration.


PSM Programs: 343
PSM-Affiliated Institutions: 159

as of October 23, 2015

Full List of PSM Programs


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